By Abdi A Gele (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
1. It is a symbol of division: The 4.5 system is the source of political failure in Somalia by creating perpetual distrust among regional as well as central government leaders to reach a political deal that ends country’s political problems. When leaders meet to make a national deal, every leader takes a hardline position in-line with his own clan’s interest as he believe that he represent his own clan through 4.5 power sharing system. This makes the national interest out of the thought. Who represent Somalia in national conferences? The answer is nobody. Did we elect a national leader at the first place? The answer is no. When 4.5 representatives fail to make a genuine agreement, the case is taken to traditional judge; The Ethiopia, which solves the disagreement for ‘Cabdulaahi gar leh, Caydiid-na gar leh’ sort of conclusion.
Therefore, the 4.5 system is central to Somalia’s vulnerability to divide and rule strategy, which is largely promoted by Somalia’s neighboring countries to achieve their negative political and economic gains. The 4.5 system endorse the fragmentation of Somalia into segments with each of the 4.5 groups devising its own flag, its own presidents and its own borders. As a recognition system, neighboring countries readily establish consulate\envoy in each region that detaches from the rest, with the aim not only being to discourage any attempts toward formation of strong and united Somalia, but also to dictate each region separately. As a result, there is an Ethiopian consulate\envoy in Hargeisa, Garowe, Mogadishu, Baidoa, Kismayo etc, while Somalia has one embassy in Addis-Ababa. The division created by 4.5 system legitimizes number of other damaging foreign interventions that impact negatively on country’s stability and reconciliation process, in addition to violating Somalia’s sovereignty. In 1950 Somalia was under colony, but Somalia was not alone as the majority of the African nations were under colony too. Today, while all countries in Africa enjoy full sovereignty, Somalia is the only country in Africa of which international community and neighboring countries involve in its national policymaking decisions. Therefore, as 4.5 system kept Somalia in the dark-side of the history for 16 years, every logic supports its abolishment in 2016.
2. It is a source of poor leadership and corruption: The poor leadership skills and corruption in the country is largely contributed by 4.5 system of election. Somalia’s traditional system intermingled into politics and the 4.5 system rely on tribal elders to choose parliamentarians. The leaders of both central and regional governments have proxy traditional elders of their own, and those elders are influenced through bribe to select parliamentarians. Not all, but many MPs maintain the cycle of bribery afterwards by voting in favor of the candidate who pay them most amount of cash, and not to those who have skills, capacity and the will to lead the nation to the right path. Will our MPS, elders, and leaders ever realize the unpatriotic nature of their actions until it is too late?
3. It is an unfair system: The 4.5 system systematically denies the constitutional rights to be a full citizen of large number of Somali citizens, while it provides excessive power to some groups. As a result, we have witnessed distrust to the government by ordinary Somalis who feel excluded. ‘Equal opportunity for all’ is one of the fundamental principles of any democratic system. Unfortunately, 4.5 system deny some of the brightest people in Somalia from holding leadership positions in the country, and for that, Somalia has lost an enormous intellectual capacity through 4.5 system; a loss that can be reversed if Somalis say ‘no’ to 4.5 system.
4. It is a system that was tested earlier and it failed to bring peace and reconciliation: Somalia has been using 4.5 system for the last 16 years without any tangible progress. If you repeat a plan that you already failed, the only result you expect is to fail again.
Today Somalia is at the verge of disintegration and it cannot withstand for additional year of poor leadership and corruption. Therefore, Somalis should reject the dividing system of 4.5, and choose an alternative system that allows members of parliament to be elected by the people, either at district or at regional level.
Abdi A Gele (PhD) is a senior researcher at the Norwegian Center for Minority Health Research, and Oslo and Akershus University College.